JUVE Patent

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – Netherlands 2022

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The Dutch office of international firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer continues to pursue the market leaders, as impressive new instructions and retention of major clients lead to increasing visibility in the patent market. This is especially true for pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, with this year’s headline instruction coming from Moderna. Highly-visible and recommended partner Rutger Kleemans is coordinating the company’s litigation against BioNTech and Pfizer in multiple locations, including in Germany, regarding Covid-19 vaccines. While naturally making headlines due to its high-profile nature, the case also demonstrates an ongoing strength of Freshfields – namely, that the international patent team is well integrated enough to have a Dutch partner coordinating the proceedings, despite the parties being yet to file cases in the Netherlands.

However, it is the firm’s work for biggest innovator pharmaceutical client Novartis which continues to provide Kleemans with ample work, for example through litigation against generic drug companies such as Mylan. Yet, despite such a workload, the Amsterdam office stands firm in the belief that just two patent litigation partners remain sufficient to keep attracting such high-calibre clients while producing high-quality litigation strategies for existing cases. Second partner Jelle Drok is thus taking the helm in several of the firm’s cases in other areas where Rutger Kleemans has less of a presence, including digital technology, although he also retains key pharmaceutical clients such as Bristol Myers-Squibb.

Despite a few quiet years on the telecommunication side, however, the firm also retains major client Apple. Long a mainstay of the Freshfields client list across its European offices, a recent conflict of interest meant the tech giant has currently looked elsewhere for instruction. For example, in the dispute with Ericsson, Apple relies on market leaders Hoyng ROKH Monegier. But, for most other cases, its loyalty remains with Freshfields, which continues to advise and litigate for the client in several disputes against both patent holders and implementers. If any FRAND disputes emerge, which seems likely given current issues surrounding licensing, this would put the firm in a good position to showcase its expertise to potential clients before the launch of the UPC.

Amid the market challengers, a team of just two partners is undeniably low in comparison to direct competitors such as Bird & Bird. But thanks to the unusually close cooperation with the teams in Düsseldorf and Munich, a feat not demonstrated by all of the firm’s competitors, the Amsterdam team is able to compensate for this disadvantage.

Additionally, recent new joiners have expanded the team of associates to 11, which is among the highest in patent litigation firms in the Netherlands. With two highly-sought-after partners supported by a diverse set of young lawyers, the Dutch team at Freshfields is clearly keeping its eye on the future.


Innovator pharmaceutical work for legacy clients, including strategic and commercial advice. Cross-border litigation, including SEP and FRAND cases.

European set-up

The Dutch office continues to be an important mainstay of the firm’s well-integrated European patent team, as strong connections to Novartis and Apple show.

Globally, its patent practice is particularly strong on the European continent, with a further strong offering in Düsseldorf and Munich. In Germany, the Freshfieldsteam closed the gap to the market leaders because of its strong presence in high-profile cases in the pharma and mobile communications fields.

Freshfields provides a masterclass on how to ensure all European offices remain part of a well-organised and well-regarded machine. The Amsterdam-Düsseldorf-Munich axis is especially strong. The firm demonstrated this in particular alongside Moderna against BioNTech with Kleemans coordinating the work in Europe, and the German team running the cases in Germany.

The London IP litigation offering is still relatively new in comparison to the established European practices, but it continues to gain momentum through work for clients such as Facebook and Continental. However, the London team still looks small in terms of litigator numbers compared to its competitors such as Allen & Overy, Bird & Bird and Hogan Lovells, which compete for clients out of offices in the same city.

Currently, the firm forgoes patent experts in Paris, preferring to cooperate with the general dispute resolution team instead. While this strategy may be in line with the firm’s overall litigation focus, it limits the patent practice in terms of cross-border disputes which could be a limiting factor at the UPC. With Paris set to host a central division while the Netherlands must make do with a local offering, it might be wise for the firm to begin thinking about how to integrate France into its overall European practice.

Recommended individuals

Rutger Kleemans (“very creative in arguing his cases”, “very fast and a sharp thinker; you must be very attentive when you fight him in the courtroom”, both competitors), Jelle Drok (“an excellent patent litigator who does good work for Novartis”, competitor)


13 lawyers


Complex disputes, especially regarding pharmaceutical drugs on the innovator side. Mobile communication litigation, including standard essential patents and FRAND issues. Electronics disputes. Transactions and licensing deals.


Litigation: Moderna (claimant) against Pfizer and BioNTech over Covid-19 vaccine patents; Novartis (claimant) against Pharmathen over cancer drug; Novartis (claimant) against Mylan and Teva over MS treatment fingolimod; Novartis (claimant) against Teva regarding chemotherapy drug Affinitor; Bristol-Myers Squibb (defendant) against Pfizer regarding cancer drugs; Impro Technologies (appellant) regarding magnetic card readers; Hewlett Packard (claimant) against 123 Ink over various imitations of printer cartridge; Schöck over building materials; The Great Bubble Barrier against Canadian Pond over sustainable river cleaning methods; regular work for Apple, Hoffmann-La Roche, Lenovo and Continental (all public knowledge). Advice: Johnson & Johnson over acquisition of shares in GATT-technologies.